Austin Ekeler has surpassed every expectation that the Chargers had for them when they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2017. In fact, he became such an integral part of the team’s offense that they opted to sign him longterm over star running back Melvin Gordon. And while Ekeler can more than handle his own, he knew coming into the season that he couldn’t do it all alone.
“I need help. We’re only going to be as good as the whole running back room. It’s not like, ‘Hey, there’s one guy that’s just going to be carrying the rock.’ I’m sharing the love, man.”
With Gordon gone, Jackson was expected to be the next man up followed by rookie Joshua Kelley. However, Jackson suffered a quad injury during Week 1, opening the door for Kelley to make an impression. The former Bruin has run away with the opportunity and has cemented himself as the clear No. 2 back.
Through the first two games of the season, Kelley has had 35 rushing attempts (tied for 6th in the league) for 124 yards and a touchdown. He’s also racked up 49 yards through the air on 2 receptions during Week 2. 35 carries in two weeks says a lot about how Anthony Lynn and the coaching staff view Kelley.
“It is exactly what I was expecting you know I wanted a tandem backfield, and both those guys have different skillsets when they come into the game, they can attack a defense differently. One with speed and space. The other one with more power.”
Kelley is already making an impact in this Chargers offense that has seen change in the backfield and at quarterback this past offseason. He’s already been trusted during crucial downs and should see an increased workload during Week 3 against a poor Carolina Panthers defense that has struggled mightily through the first two weeks of the season.